August 15, 2019

Wyden Welcomes FCC Move Toward New National Three-Digit Mental Health and Suicide Number

Citing alarming suicide statistics in Oregon and nationwide, senator had pressed FCC to act

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today welcomed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff recommendation to designate a new nationwide three-digit phone hotline for people facing a mental health crisis and for suicide prevention.

Citing alarming suicide statistics from Oregon and throughout out the United States, Wyden had strongly urged the FCC in recent months to take such a step.

“A three-digit number designated for people in a mental health crisis or considering suicide can save lives and provide a much-needed ear for people who need it most,” Wyden said. “There is no time to waste when for the past three decades, Oregon’s suicide rates have been higher than the national average.”

Wyden noted that the statewide “Breaking the Silence” reporting project this year in Oregon found suicide kills more than 800 Oregonians a year and that suicide rates in the state and across the country have steadily increased since 2000.

“This qualifies as a public health crisis, and it’s urgent business that it be treated as such,” Wyden said. “Establishing a three-digit lifeline takes a significant step in that direction, and I will continue to press for a three-digit number such as 6-1-1 that builds upon the long-time use of 9-1-1 as a recognized number for emergencies.”

“The FCC is right – we need a 9-1-1 for mental health crisis now.  Oregon is lucky to have Senator Wyden leading the charge on improving access to mental wellness,” said Lines for Life CEO Dwight Holton. “His leadership was pivotal in getting the FCC to make this recommendation.  Lines for Life stands ready to work with Senator Wyden to make this recommendation a reality — and hopefully, launch 6-1-1 as the nation’s national mental health crisis lifeline.”